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The Australian Shepherd an Overview

The Australian Shepherd is actually not from Australia.  His ancestors arrived in the United States via Australia.  The early relatives of the Aussie were actually from the Basque region of Spain.  Many  Basque sheepherders migrated to Australia in the 19th century, taking their dogs and sheep with them.  In the late 1800's and early 1900's, American sheepmen imported sheep from Australia to the western US.  It was during this time that these "little blue dogs" began being noticed.  As they were coming from Australia with the Basque shepherds, they were called "Australian Shepherds."  The final formation of the breed took place in the United States.  Their usefulness as the consummate farm and ranch dog was cultivated through working livestock in rural settings.  The Aussie accompanied their owners to rodeos and horse and livestock shows where his unique looks and intelligence caught the eye of the general public.  The Australian Shepherd Club of America was founded in 1957 and has governed the most recent development of the breed.


The Australian Shepherd is a well-balanced dog of medium size and bone.  He is attentive and animated, showing strength and stamina, combined with unusual agility.  Slightly longer than tall, he has a coat of moderate length and coarsness with coloring that offers variety and individuality in each specimen.  An identifying characteristic is his natural or docked bobtail.  His gait smooth, free and easy, showing agility and efficiency of movement in a balanced ground-covering stride.  Males range in height from 20-23 inches and females 18-21 inches.  Animals can weigh from 35 to 70 pounds.  Generally the Aussie is a healthy breed of dog, with a life expectancy of 12-14 years.  As with all breeds of dogs there are specific health issues that should be researched, such as Hip Dysplasia and eye problems.


The recognized colors are black, red, blue merle, red merle. All varieties may be with or without white and/or copper trim.  The red dogs have liver pigment; blue or black dogs have black pigment.


Suggested Reading or Reference Materials:




All About Aussies, Jeanne Joy Hartnagle

The Australian Shepherd, Champion of Versatility, Liz Palika

Australian Shepherds, Joseph Hartnagle

The Guide to the Australian Shepherd, Liz Palika

The Essential Australian Shepherd, Howell Book House

Australian Shepherds, Barron's



AKC Video Series - Australian Shepherd

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